Numerous direct-to-consumer startups provide personalized diet plans by using just a cheek swab and at-home test kit, but UW-Madison nutritional scientists caution that current scientific evidence does not yet back the companies’ claims.

An integrative and comprehensive approach to personalized nutrition that takes into account both subjective and objective input from both patients and practitioners is required to move toward a prevention-based healthcare paradigm.

What Is Personalized Nutrition?

Personalized nutrition is an approach that capitalizes on individuality to develop effective nutritional plans to promote and sustain health while combatting diseases. It integrates genetic, medical, nutritional, phenotypic and metabolic information with biochemistry knowledge in order to produce diet options tailored specifically for an individual’s unique requirements.

Starting this year, several startups are targeting consumers with nutrigenetics tests that screen for gene variants associated with certain conditions and provide diet advice based on genetic markers relating to lactose intolerance, alcohol or caffeine sensitivity, an increased need for omega-3, B vitamins, antioxidants, vitamin D and cruciferous vegetables among others. They take a saliva sample and analyze it using genetic analysis software before providing nutritional recommendations.

Studies have demonstrated that individuals receiving DNA-guided diet advice are more likely to adhere to it than would otherwise be the case with non-genetic guidance. While genetic guidance remains relatively new in its application, recent research published by Scientific American demonstrated its success at helping reduce salt intake and blood pressure in patients.

How Does Personalized Nutrition Work?

Personalized nutrition allows individuals to tailor dietary recommendations that suit their specific needs and goals, for instance someone suffering from allergies may opt for an allergen-free diet to remove immunological triggers. Companies such as Habit and Viome utilize systems biology in producing these personalized nutrition recommendations.

Studies have demonstrated that individuals receiving tailored dietary guidance make more sustainable changes in diet quality than those receiving general nutritional advice alone. One research project demonstrated this by showing participants who received personalized plans based on multiomic data plus practitioner-facilitated education and intervention had improved nutrient intakes as well as anthropometric and cardiometabolic risk markers when compared with those receiving only gene-based reports (35).

The ZOE at-home test uses a patented technology to combine blood, urine and saliva biomarkers with each individual’s microbiome composition and recommend foods to achieve individual health goals. Take our free quiz now to discover more.

How Can Personalized Nutrition Help You?

Personalized Nutrition offers nutritious eating solutions designed to promote optimal health and prevent existing diseases. It utilizes your unique genetic, medical, nutritional, phenotypic and metabolic data in creating customized diet plans tailored specifically to you.

Scientific communities have begun publishing findings in top-tier journals, while companies are turning these insights into subscription services that advise individuals which foods to eat based on genetics, food preferences, and health goals. Although some of these methods remain unproven, they can help people make more informed decisions regarding their diets.

Malnutrition is one of the primary reasons for hospital admissions and can increase complications and lengthen hospital stays1. Studies have demonstrated that receiving individual nutritional support can significantly enhance calorie and protein intake as well as clinical outcomes in those with compromised nutrition status2.

How Can Personalized Nutrition Help Me?

Personalized nutrition employs personal data compiled from different sources to produce personalized eating recommendations for each individual. The source data may include various studies and tests such as lab tests measuring glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood proteins levels as well as microbiome research, biochemical pathways study or metabolism research – this area of science known as “omics sciences” can also provide invaluable insight for personalized nutrition recommendations.

Additionally, these tests can identify an individual’s nutritional requirements and risk factors for diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Furthermore, personalized nutrition plans may help balance individual’s existing health conditions with food that will best support them.

Personalized nutrition may have far-reaching ramifications for society at large. It could transform health from being defined by disease into being about self-fulfillment both inside and beyond the realm of medicine – an exciting prospect!

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